Paul Mitchinson is a part-time writer and a full-time father of two. He writes when he can. » more about me

Garth Turner has a well-earned reputation as an independent-minded Member of Parliament. I voted Conservative in the last election largely because of his support for gay marriage. I even joined the Conservative Party to help defend him against a nomination challenge. (After Stephen Harper turfed him out of caucus last year, I promptly tore up my membership card.)

He is sanctimonious and self-aggrandizing, but what politician isn't?

But beginning with his ill-advised decision to join the Liberal Party — after criticizing other MPs for switching party allegiance — Turner has gradually shed his reputation as an honorable and principled political actor. The last straw, for me, was this report from a couple days ago, on his current trip out west.

In Edmonton there was a top-of-the-lung rant by a pesky senior, decrying all things Conservative; a dire prediction I ‘ll be tossed out of the Liberal party by Stephane Dion within 30 months for my unique pain-in-the-ass qualities; an anti-immigrant tirade that almost caused a dustup in the audience; several pleas that oil come second to the environment; and the intervention by a pack of young Liberals who showed up to argue Nine Eleven was an inside job, and Canada is morally bankrupt to be fighting George Bush’s illegal war in Afghanistan.

Actually, that last group was persuasive. Not that I buy the conspiracy theory – not yet, anyway. But I was struck by their fervour and commitment. They loaded me up with literature and CDs, and made me promise I would blog about this. And I did.

There are two things that struck me about this passage. First of all, 9-11 conspiracy theories are apparently considered unremarkable in the Liberal Party. It's one thing for individual Liberals to quietly grumble such nonsense among friends; it's quite another for a "pack" of them to feel comfortable in publicly haranguing an MP on the subject. This should be national news, IMHO.

Second, and most depressing, is Turner's cowardice. He's not quite ready to don the tin-foil hat ("not yet, anyway"), but gosh those boys were "persuasive."

What an ass.

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